John McCain — A “Realistic Idealist”
Much has been made —and rightly so— over Senator Obama’s speech last week about race. One would hope that the important speech Senator McCain made yesterday to the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles will receive similar attention.
Senator McCain declares himself up front as a “realistic idealist”:
I am an idealist, and I believe it is possible in our time to make the world we live in another, better, more peaceful place, where our interests and those of our allies are more secure, and American ideals that are transforming the world, the principles of free people and free markets, advance even farther than they have. But I am, from hard experience and the judgment it informs, a realistic idealist. I know we must work very hard and very creatively to build new foundations for a stable and enduring peace. We cannot wish the world to be a better place than it is. We have enemies for whom no attack is too cruel, and no innocent life safe, and who would, if they could, strike us with the world’s most terrible weapons. There are states that support them, and which might help them acquire those weapons because they share with terrorists the same animating hatred for the West, and will not be placated by fresh appeals to the better angels of their nature. This is the central threat of our time, and we must understand the implications of our decisions on all manner of regional and global challenges could have for our success in defeating it.
The speech was clearly reasoned, tightly written, and well delivered. It can be viewed (53 minutes) on C-SPAN (under “Recent Programs”).